In Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee ordered a ban on community gatherings of more than 250 people as a nursing home in King County reported two more deaths Tuesday, raising Washington’s death toll to 25. This comes as The New York Times reported that the coronavirus spread undetected in Washington for weeks, after state and federal officials rejected a Seattle infectious disease expert’s pleas to repurpose a flu study to monitor for coronavirus. By the time the researcher unilaterally decided to begin testing, two people had died and scores had become infected.
Former Vice President Joe Biden scored decisive primary victories Tuesday night in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is leading in Washington state and North Dakota, where votes are still being counted. While Biden is less than halfway to the delegates he would need to secure the Democratic nomination, he declared victory during a speech in Philadelphia.
Joe Biden: “And I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion. We share a common goal, and together we’ll defeat Donald Trump. We’ll defeat him together.”
Senator Bernie Sanders returned to his home in Vermont Tuesday night and did not make a public statement. Earlier Tuesday, he stressed the differences between his campaign and Biden’s during a campaign stop in Detroit.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Here in Michigan, where trade agreements have been so devastating in the loss of over 100,000 good-paying jobs — Joe Biden voted for NAFTA. He voted for PNTR with China. I helped lead the opposition.”
Exit polls in every state voting Tuesday showed strong support for Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All program — even in Mississippi, where it has the backing of nearly two-thirds of Democratic voters. But speaking on MSNBC on Monday, Joe Biden indicated that if elected president, he would veto Medicare for All legislation should Congress send it to his desk.
Joe Biden: “I would veto anything that delays providing the security and the certainty of healthcare being available now.”
Less than two weeks after losing his front-runner status, Sanders faces a decision about whether to continue his increasingly uphill fight for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination. South Carolina Congressmember Jim Clyburn, the number three House Democrat who earlier helped lead Biden to victory in South Carolina, told NPR the DNC should “shut this primary down.”
Rep. James Clyburn: “I think we will be at a point where Joe Biden will be the prohibitive nominee of the party. And I think the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, should then step in, make an assessment and determine whether or not they ought to have any more debates.”
On the campaign trail, former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday told a union autoworker in Detroit he was “full of sh**” and threatened to fight him. Biden made the threat during a photo-op at Detroit’s first new auto assembly plant to be built in decades. The exchange began when the autoworker accused Biden of actively trying to end the Second Amendment. After cursing at the man, Biden repeatedly told a female aide to “shush!” before touting his ownership of shotguns and saying he supports the Second Amendment. Biden threatened to slap the man in the face and threatened to take him “outside” for a fight. During the exchange, Biden also mistakenly referred to the AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle as an “AR-14.”
There were reports of irregularities at many polling sites during Tuesday’s primaries. In Missouri, some would-be voters in St. Louis County left long lines at dozens of precincts without casting a ballot, after the county’s electronic poll books failed. In Kansas City, Mayor Quinton Lucas was turned away from the polls Tuesday morning and told he wasn’t in the system — even though he’s voted in the same precinct since 2009. Mayor Lucas had just posted a video to social media stressing the importance of voting.
In Michigan, disabled voters reported problems voting in Detroit and Dearborn. And college students in Ann Arbor and East Lansing reported long lines with wait times of up to two hours. In a statement, Senator Bernie Sanders called the voting problems an “outrage,” writing, “At a time when Democrats correctly attack Republicans for voter suppression, it is disappointing to see people standing in long lines for hours today waiting to vote in Michigan and around the country. People should not have to miss a day of work to exercise their right to vote.” We’ll have the latest on the Democratic presidential race after headlines with journalist and activist Naomi Klein and Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network.
In Saudi Arabia, reports have emerged of a new crackdown on senior royal members and top officials, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to be renewing efforts to consolidate power in the kingdom. At least four prominent members of the royal family have reportedly been detained.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has endorsed a plan that would allow him to remain in power until 2036. The legislation was approved by the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the Duma, on Tuesday, but must still be approved by Russia’s Constitutional Court and a public referendum to be held in April. Putin had already proposed constitutional changes that would allow him to remain in power beyond 2024.
In Venezuela, security forces Tuesday tear-gassed protesters led by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó to prevent them from marching on the National Assembly, which is currently under the control of pro-government lawmakers. This is the first protest triggered by Guaidó after he led an international tour hoping to win support for the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Guaidó is reportedly trying to revive these efforts as the country’s economic crisis continues to worsen.
Meanwhile, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned U.S.-imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s airline and oil industries are decimating social spending and leading to shortages of food and medicine. Bachelet was speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday.
Michelle Bachelet: “On economic and social rights, I am concerned by the imposition of new economic sanctions, particularly those that affect airlines and the sanctions on the oil industry, and changing the use of government expenditures that are meant to be used for social ends — also, problems with importing food, medication and humanitarian aid.”
In Minnesota, thousands of union teachers and other school staff in the city of Saint Paul began a strike Tuesday after contract talks with the city’s school district broke down. The St. Paul Federation of Educators, which represents some 3,600 educators and school staff, are demanding funding for mental health services for students, as well as more multilingual interpreters and special education funding.